Meaning of “past” in the English Dictionary

"past" in British English

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pastpreposition, adverb

uk /pɑːst/ us /pæst/

past preposition, adverb (POSITION)

A2 in or to a position that is further than a particular point:

I live on Station Road, just past the post office.
Three boys went past us on mountain bikes.
Was that Peter who just jogged past in those bright pink shorts?

More examples

  • She walked right past me without noticing me.
  • As the battleship sailed past, everyone on deck waved.
  • Back in the 1960s he had hair down past his shoulders.
  • The police car drove past at a terrific speed.
  • The demonstrators formed a solid wall to stop the police from getting past them.

past preposition, adverb (TIME)

A1 used to say what the time is when it is a particular number of minutes after an hour:

It's five/ten/a quarter/twenty/twenty-five/half past three.
I need to leave at twenty past or I'll miss that train.

B2 above a particular age or further than a particular point:

She's past the age where she needs a babysitter.
Do what you want, I'm past caring (= I don't care any longer).

pastadjective

uk /pɑːst/ us /pæst/

past adjective (TIME BEFORE)

B1 [ before noun ] used to refer to a period of time before and until the present:

The average temperature worldwide has risen by about one degree Fahrenheit in the past 100 years.
I've been walking three miles a day for the past 30 years.
He was the fifth climber to die on these mountains over the past two days.
In centuries/years past (= many centuries/years ago) even visiting the next village was considered a long journey.

B1 [ before noun ] having happened or existed before now:

I know from past experience that you can't judge by appearances.
The prime minister's family have been instructed not to discuss his past life with the press.

[ after verb ] finished:

I'm feeling much better now that the cold weather is past.

More examples

  • The dog has been her constant companion these past ten years.
  • I'm sorry I didn't phone you, but I've been very busy over the past couple of weeks.
  • Martin broke his leg playing football and has been on crutches for the past six weeks.
  • Economically the country has been improving steadily these past ten years.
  • The number of employees in the company has trebled over the past decade.

past adjective (GRAMMAR)

[ before noun ] language of the past tense:

"Must" does not have a past form.

More examples

  • Add -ed to all these verbs to put them in the past tense.
  • I think her husband must be dead - she always talks about him in the past tense.
  • How do you say that in the past tense?
  • "Was doing" is the past continuous form of the verb.
  • The past perfect is illustrated by 'had done'.

pastnoun [ S ]

uk /pɑːst/ us /pæst/

past noun [ S ] (TIME BEFORE)

B1 the period before and until, but not including, the present time:

Evolution can explain the past, but it can never predict the future.
In the past, this sort of work was all done by hand.
By winning the 1500 metres, he joins some of the great names of the past.
a past

a part of someone's life in which they did unacceptable or dishonest things:

He's a man with a past.

More examples

  • Some of the younger pop bands try to imitate their musical heroes from the past.
  • In the past, knights used to wear (suits of) armour in battle.
  • Giving up your seat to an older person seems to be a thing of the past.
  • Today, people are much more concerned about their health than they were in the past.
  • He decided to put his failed marriage behind him and make a clean break with the past.

(Definition of “past” from the Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)

"past" in American English

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pastnoun [ C/U ]

us /pæst/

past noun [ C/U ] (TIME BEFORE)

the period before and until, but not including, the present time:

[ U ] In the past, a streetcar line ran down 13th Avenue.

Your past is your life before the present time:

[ C ] He never talks about his past.

pastadjective [ not gradable ]

us /pæst/

past adjective [ not gradable ] (RELATING TO GRAMMAR)

grammar having the tense used to describe actions, events, or states that happened or existed before the present time:

The past tense of "change" is "changed."

pastpreposition, adverb [ not gradable ]

us /pæst/

past preposition, adverb [ not gradable ] (ON THE FAR SIDE)

on the far side of something, or from one side to the other:

They live just past the post office.
Three boys went past us on bikes.

past preposition, adverb [ not gradable ] (BEYOND)

beyond or above a particular point:

Melissa is past the age where she needs a babysitter.
It’s already past noon.

(Definition of “past” from the Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)

"past" in Business English

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pastpreposition

uk /pɑːst/ us /pæst/

above a particular age or outside a stated limit:

More and more people are working until past retirement age.
We're past the point where losing a couple of employees will save us.

pastadjective [ before noun ]

uk /pɑːst/ us /pæst/

during a period of time before and until the present:

Our costs have risen by 15% in the past year.
He's managed the sales department for the past 10 years.
We've been discussing the issue over the past few days.

having happened or existed before now:

I know from past experience that this campaign will work.

(Definition of “past” from the Cambridge Business English Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)